Divorce in Italy now possible in 6 months

Italy’s House of Representatives has given final approval to its “fast-track divorce law”, cutting the time it takes to get divorced in the country from three years to just six months in an uncontested case (or to one year if the divorce is defended). The change in the law, amending Article 3 of the Divorce Law, has had overwhelming support and has been widely seen as a loosening of the influence of the Catholic Church.

The new law states that a divorce can be requested 6 or 12 months from the date of the first hearing for separation. If the separation is informal and not registered, these time periods will not start to run. If there is any reconciliation or other interruption during the separation period, the time accrued up to the day of the interruption does not count and the parties must restart the period of separation.

Divorce first became legal in Italy in 1970, at which time there was a mandatory separation period of 5 years. This period intended to make couples carefully consider their decision before a divorce could be granted. In 1987, this period was reduced to 3 years.

The country operates a “no fault” system of divorce but imposes a period during which couples consider reconciliation. This period has forced many couples in the past, unwilling to wait, to set up false residencies in other EU countries offering quicker divorces and then divorcing there. The parties then had the divorce recognised in Italy via EU regulations. The change in the law, which will apply to ongoing cases as well as new ones, will make divorce in Italy easier, faster and prevent couples from looking elsewhere for a quicker divorce.

The amendment to the law also altered the point at which spouses’ common property ownership ends. It now ceases when spouses are allowed to live apart by the court, rather than when the separation order becomes final.

It should be noted that Italian law already provides for immediate divorce, on grounds such as incestuous relationships, total incapacity of a spouse, change of sex, non-consummation, life imprisonment or aggravated assault but these grounds are seldom used.

If you are considering divorcing either in England or abroad, it is important to take advice from an international divorce specialist who can advise you of where best to bring proceedings, both in relation to a divorce and any connected financial claims. If you think your spouse is considering starting proceedings, it is vital that you take this advice as a matter of urgency in order that your divorce is dealt with in the most appropriate forum and to protect your position.

Leave a Reply